Nebraska Football: Alex Bullock among several shocking depth chart decisions

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

The Nebraska football team’s first official depth chart offers plenty of surprises on both the offense and defense side of the ball.

It turns out that the hype surrounding the release of Nebraska football’s first official depth chart under Matt Rhule was warranted. On Friday morning, the coaching staff released the two-deep for next week’s game against Minnesota and there are some real surprises among them.

Standing out to me right at the get-go is Alex Bullock being listed as the #1 receiver ahead of Marcus Washington. We’d certainly heard that Bullock was impressing and would see the field. I did not expect him to get the start.

Bullock will be starting alongside Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda and Billy Kemp (who will line up in the slot). For Garcia-Castaneda, seeing his name at the top of the depth chart has got to feel like redemption after a wild and twisty time with Nebraska football.

Ty Hahn, Washington, and Joshua Fleeks are listed as the backups at the receiver spots with Fleeks backing up Kemp in the slot. That’s notable considering the Baylor transfer was sent home at the start of camp due to not making weight. It appears he rededicated himself.

One big question that hasn’t quite been settled yet, is who is going to get the most playing time at fullback. Janiran Bonner and Barret Liebentritt are listed as co-starters. Rhule has made it clear that when there is an “or” the names are alphabetical so not necessarily a sign that the coaches are leaning one way or another.

The running back depth chart might raise eyebrows as well for some. Gabe Ervin was named the starter last week, but Rahmir Johnson is officially listed as #2. Anthony Grant is currently the third-string running back. It would appear his fumbleitis is still a problem.

At quarterback, Sims is the unquestioned starter, but as Rhule mentioned last week, the backup job is very much unsettled. The Nebraska football coaches will go with a different guy depending on the situation with Heinrich Haarberg the more mobile option and Chubba Purdy the better passer.

Tight end is another position where the real starter isn’t quite known yet as Thomas Fidone and Nate Boerkircher are listed with that enigmatic “or.”

The two big spots on the two-deep that might make eyebrows furrow is Teddy Prochazka as the third-string left tackle and the complete absence of Malachi Coleman on the two-deep.

Prochazka has been banged up this camp and in his career so it’s not a total shock, but the expectations are going to be that he moves up the chart. He’s currently behind both Turner Corcoran and Gunner Gottula.

Coleman’s absence probably shouldn’t actually surprise anyone. Rhule was clear during the spring that he wasn’t confident many freshmen would get to start for Nebraska football’s opener. Turns out that redshirt redshirt-freshman Bonner is the only listed starter.

On the offensive line, Ethan Piper starts at left guard and is backed up by Sam Sledge. Arizona State transfer Ben Scott is the starting center and is backed up by Justin Evans-Jenkins. Noure Nouili gets the start at right guard over Henry Lutovsky and Bryce Benhart starts at right tackle over Tyler Knaak.

It is worth pointing out that Prochazka is the only 3rd stringer listed on the depth chart. Though there isn’t an or listed between him and Gottula, so make that of it what you will.

Nebraska football defense missing one big name

On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest name nowhere to be found is Elijah Jeudy. The Texas A&M transfer was thought to have performed well in the spring and looked like he might at least land on the two-deep. As of now, there hasn’t been a mention of him being hurt and having to sit out.

At Jeudy’s position, Ty Robinson will start on one side at defensive end and will be backed up by Kai Wallin. On the other side, Blaise Gunnerson and freshman Cameron Lenhardt are costarters. In the middle of Tony White’s 3-3-5 defense, is the Polar Bear, Nash Hutmacher who is backed up by Ru’Quan Buckley.

You might have noticed that not a single senior is listed on the two-deep for the defensive line and that’s a recurring theme on the defense.

At linebacker, Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich are starting and backed up by John Bullock and Javin Wright respectively. Reimer is just one of three seniors who are starting for the Nebraska football team’s defense. He’s also one of just four seniors on the entire defensive depth chart.

At Jack, Chief Borders and MJ Sherman are co-starters and Jimari Butler is backing them up. The starting corners are Quinton Newsome and Malcolm Hartzog with Tommi Hill and Dwight Bootle II backing them up.

The rover is Isaac Gifford with Phalen Sanford at #2 and the starting safeties are Omar Brown and DeShon Singleton with Koby Bretz and Corey Collier Jr. just behind them.

One name that is absent due to injury is Marques Buford. Rhule said on Friday they expect him back by Week 5 or Week 6.

Nebraska football special teams

There are few surprises when it comes to special teams. The Nebraska football team still doesn’t have a true starting kicker as Tristan Alvano and Timmy Bleekrode have both struggled in fall camp. Brian Buschini is the starting punter with Bleekrode backing him up. Buschini will also be handling kickoffs.

Emmett Johson will be the top kick returner alongside Rahmir Johnson and Billy Kemp will be returning punts this year for the Nebraska football team.